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Clinical vocabulary as a boundary object in multidisciplinary care management of multiple chemical sensitivity, a complex and chronic condition

Authors Sampalli T, Shepherd M, Duffy J

Published 14 April 2011 Volume 2011:4 Pages 91—102

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S17564

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Tara Sampalli1,2, Michael Shepherd2, Jack Duffy2
1Capital District Health Authority, 2Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

Background: Research has shown that accurate and timely communication between multidisciplinary clinicians involved in the care of complex and chronic health conditions is often challenging. The domain knowledge for these conditions is heterogeneous, with poorly categorized, unstructured, and inconsistent clinical vocabulary. The potential of boundary object as a technique to bridge communication gaps is explored in this study.
Methods: A standardized and controlled clinical vocabulary was developed as a boundary object in the domain of a complex and chronic health condition, namely, multiple chemical sensitivity, to improve communication among multidisciplinary clinicians. A convenience sample of 100 patients with a diagnosis of multiple chemical sensitivity, nine multidisciplinary clinicians involved in the care of patients with multiple chemical sensitivity, and 36 clinicians in the community participated in the study.
Results: Eighty-two percent of the multidisciplinary and inconsistent vocabulary was standardized using the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine – Clinical Terms (SNOMED® CT as a reference terminology. Over 80% of the multidisciplinary clinicians agreed on the overall usefulness of having a controlled vocabulary as a boundary object. Over 65% of clinicians in the community agreed on the overall usefulness of the vocabulary.
Conclusion: The results from this study are promising and will be further evaluated in the domain of another complex chronic condition, ie, chronic pain. The study was conducted as a preliminary analysis for developing a boundary object in a heterogeneous domain of knowledge.

Keywords: multidisciplinary care, complex and chronic conditions, multiple chemical sensitivity, boundary objects

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